Saturday, May 27, 2017

Yin and Yang


The end of the second week of being on a clock. Like pretty much everything, the second time around goes easier than the first. It is still a hot, brute force type of labor; the kind that leads to sore bones and shredded hands. But there are people here pleased to see me back for another season, people that I am happy to see again as well. I know my way around the yard, we know our way around the town, and the habits formed from last year still fit. Daughter Eldest and family are with us for an extended stay, building on the month that they spent with us last year. Most people gasp at the thought of having four adults and three kids ages 8, 5, and 2 all living on a 42 foot sailboat. But we are at a dock with a bath house close and room for the kids to run, ride bicycles, explore, and play. And there are few pleasures that compare with walking around the corner and having a 2 year old grand daughter run your way calling “T's home!” at the top of her little voice. How does one balance sore bones and shredded hands to a moment that all-encompassing good? Yin and yang.

In some ways we are back to living pretty much like most people do in America. The day of the week matters again, and weekends are a brief couple of days to be enjoyed. To some degree it doesn't matter how I feel or what the weather is doing, the work has to get done so the paycheck arrives. I get a 10 minute break at 1000, a half hour for lunch at 1200, and another 10 minute break at 1430. There are things I am allowed to do, (climb ladders, run wires, fix boats) and things I am not allowed to do (drive the fork truck, start a travel lift, walk in the "customer's" door of the office.) It is a very regulated life, one in which I participate by doing what I'm told.

Pretty much the polar opposite of living a cruiser's life.

But we are still on a boat. My "home" moves gently to light winds, bobs agreeably in gentle waves. I can sit in my cockpit in the evening, look out over the water, watch the pelicans fish, and enjoy the occasional visit from a manatee family or a couple of dolphins.

Weather is still an every day check and possible concern, and the hurricane season will soon be upon us. Preliminary plans have already been laid since three little ones have no business on a boat during a tropical storm of any name, tied to dock or no. Even a day of heavy thunder is a day to be careful. Cars no longer rank among my favorite things, but having one around takes some of the worry out of having to beat a hasty retreat.

Pretty much the opposite of living a suburban or city, work-a-day, life.

Things are settling down nicely, but I have to admit to being a bit envious of friends who are south of the hurricane zone, far from these shores. Content as I may be with life at the moment, living deep in Trump territory requires that I be even more circumspect around my fellow human beings than usual. There is nothing this guy can do that his followers will criticize in any way, marking him as the leader of a cult rather than a nation. Which isn't to say that his cult hasn't taken over the nation, something that is proving to be a bit of a problem. As a general rule, cultists are people I try to avoid, particularly ones whose cult includes a fondness for violence, guns, and greed.

It is often said that the Chinese have a curse which goes, “May you live in interesting times” which, I thought, was pretty apropos to living in the US this summer. I was curious as to the background behind such a curse, and so poked around the Internet bit, just out of curiosity. It turns out the “Chinese curse” is mostly an invention of western thought. In 1836 (less than three years before the first "Opium War between China and the British Empire started) John Francis Davis, a British diplomat, published something titled “The Chinese; A general Description of the Empire of China and Its Inhabitants." In it he stated:

"The Chinese have lived so much in peace, that they have acquired by habit and education a more than common horror of political disorder. 'Better be a dog in peace than a man in anarchy,' is common maxim. ' It is a general rule,' they say, 'that the worst of men are fondest of change and commotion, hoping that they may thereby benefit themselves; but by adherence to a steady, quiet system, affairs proceed without confusion, and bad men have nothing to gain.'"

Interesting. A bit of wisdom articulated by a culture far older than ours.

Of course, change is inevitable. Confucius himself is quoted as teaching, "They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom.” So, perhaps, there is a bit of a yin and yang thing to consider here as well. The Opium Wars were a result of the British East India Company using bribery and smuggling to pump tons of opium into China. As might be expected the Chinese Dynasty at the time took offense at millions of its citizens being turned into junkies for the profit of a foreign corporate entity. The British response to China's attempt at curtailing the opium trade resulted in the first application of “gunboat diplomacy”; where a nation's military power was openly used to protect a corporation's “bottom line.” When is “change” a servant of wisdom, and when is it a tool of evil?

I found that all a kind of fascinating reflection on today's American politics. Is what we see American leadership (apart from our cultist President and his worshipers) people seeking to lead a society constant in happiness or wisdom”? Or are they the worst of men...hoping that they may thereby benefit themselves?

No yin and yang here. If the former, they are allies and working toward the best possible future for a two year old. If the later...well, they are the enemy, and the sooner their downfall, the better.

1 comment:

Ben Tudor said...

A great post with very sound advise. Crappy parts don't last so the difficult job will be repeated sooner than expected. There is rarely a cost saving with cheap parts.